Asus G751 Gaming Laptop: Mobile Maxwell Done Right

Battery Boost

Nvidia's Battery Boost is a technology we've  covered before in some detail, but it's been six months since we last visited the technology. We've put the capability through its full set of paces for a second time, and come back with markedly different results.

For full details on how Battery Boost has changed with the introduction of Maxwell, see our Maxwell article. Back when BB debuted, we tested three games -- Metro Last Light, BioShock Infinite, and Diablo III. This initial test went less-well than expected -- Battery Boost worked in Diablo III, but only pulled the frame rate down to the mid-60s as opposed to a steady 30 fps. It successfully adjusted down to 30 fps in BioShock Infinite, but the screen tearing was so horrible the game was unplayable. The only place we saw a successful play test was Metro Last Light, where the technology was flawless -- but the benefit was quite modest.

Nvidia has since said that Metro Last Light places such a load on GPUs, it's a poor candidate for Battery Boost. What about the other two titles?

All of our Battery Boost benchmarks are based on real game playing, not simply looping a benchmark scene until the battery dies. The only caveat is that we disconnect when Windows warns we've hit 10% power, as this is the point where we assume your average laptop owner will kill the connection. Total battery run time remaining at the 10% mark has been estimated at 5 - 10 minutes depending on whether or not Battery Boost was engaged.

BioShock Infinite:

The screen tearing that made BioShock Infinite unplayable last spring has vanished. While there's still a bit of V-Sync tear, it's nothing like the wholesale fracturing that marred the experience six months ago. As for the impact of Battery Boost, judge for yourself:

Unoptimized, without Battery Boost engaged means that I ran the game in the same configuration we used for benchmarking -- 1920x1080, Ultra Detail w/ DoF. Unoptimized, but with Battery Boost, means that the game pulls down to a 30 FPS target but I'm still using our benchmark settings. This still increases runtime by nearly 75%.

In our final test, we allowed Nvidia's GeForce Experience application to actually change in-game settings to improve battery life. We didn't expect to see much in the way of improvements, but we were wrong -- allowing Nvidia to manage the on-battery detail levels improved run-time by a further 27%. In-game detail levels were somewhat lower, but that's more than compensated for with the doubled up battery life.

Diablo 3:

Diablo 3 showed nearly identical trends to BioShock Infinite, save that we saw no screen tearing whatsoever. This time around, however, the frame rate did pull down properly to 30 FPS, as opposed to the mid 60s.

Again, we see considerable performance boosts and absolutely no downside. True, the game plays much more smoothly at 100 FPS than when pulled down to 30 FPS, but if you're trying to conserve battery life you can nearly double it this way. You can also control BB if you want to trade some frame rate for slightly less run time.

Battery Boost has matured extremely well over the past six months. When it debuted, it wasn't clear if NV was actually improving run-time with anything but a 30 FPS pulldown. Now it's clear they are. But those of you with non-NV solutions or unsupported Nvidia GPUs should be aware that the 30 FPS pulldown is still something that can sometimes be done, either by the game engine itself or by third-party utilities -- you'll just have to dig around in a game-by-game fashion to find it.

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